Mississippi River Corridor Critical Area Program

The Mississippi River Corridor Critical Area (MRCCA) is a joint state, regional and local program that provides coordinated planning and management for the 72 mile stretch of the Mississippi River through the seven-county metropolitan area and 54,000 acres of surrounding land across 30 local jurisdictions. The MRCCA shares a boundary with the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (MNRRA), a unit of the National Park Service.

The MRCCA was designated a state critical area in 1976 to protect its many unique natural and cultural resources and values. These resources and values are protected through development standards and criteria implemented via local land use plans and zoning ordinances.

The MRCCA is home to a full range of residential neighborhoods and parks, as well as river-related commerce, industry, and transportation. Though the river corridor has been extensively developed, many intact and remnant natural areas remain, including bluffs, islands, floodplains, wetlands, riparian zones, and native aquatic and terrestrial flora and fauna.

The MRCCA is cooperatively managed by:

  • Local Government - Adopts, administers, and enforces plans and ordinances.
  • DNR - Adopts rules, reviews and approves local plans and ordinances, and may review and comment on local actions requiring a public hearing.
  • Metropolitan Council - Reviews plans for consistency with rules and MNRRA policies, and submits recommendations to the DNR; and provides assistance to local governments adopting or amending plans.
  • National Park Service - Provides funding assistance to local, regional, and state agencies; encourages local governments to incorporate voluntary MNRRA policies into plans; and provides stewardship, education, and historical and cultural resource protection.

Rules Regulating the MRCCA

Rules guiding development for the Mississippi River Corridor Critical Area were adopted by the DNR in early January 2017, which replaced an Executive Order used from 1976 to 2016. Implementation is being phased in, first with updates to local government MRCCA plans and then with updates to their MRCCA ordinances. Until local governments update their MRCCA ordinances, their existing MRCCA ordinances and districts remain as the controlling development regulation. Citizens should contact their local government to find out what regulations apply to their property.

What's Happening

1. Updated MRCCA Boundary and Districts Shapefiles now available

The DNR has updated the MRCCA boundary shapefile to more accurately follow public land survey lines and road centerlines existing at the time of designation. The MRCCA Districts shapefile has been updated with the updated boundary. MRCCA boundaries and districts shapefiles are available.

2. State Register Publication of Legal Description Corrections and Minor Rulemaking

The DNR corrected minor technical errors in the legal description of the boundary for the MRCCA, published in 1979 in the State Register. None of the legal description corrections affect the boundary as it has been used to administer MRCCA plans and ordinances for the past 39 years. A summary and explanation of the corrections can be found in the Explanation of Legal Description Corrections. The DNR published the corrected legal description in the State Register on November 5, 2018. On December 31, 2018, the DNR concluded a minor rulemaking to update the MRCCA rules definition for "River Corridor Boundary" (Minn. Rule 6106.005 Subp. 64) to replace the reference to the 1979 State Register publication with the November 5th State Register publication.

3. Local Government MRCCA Plans

Local governments are making progress on updating their MRCCA plans as part of their 2040 comprehensive plan updates, due to the Metropolitan Council by the end of 2018. Local governments with extensions approved by the Metropolitan Council may still submit their MRCCA plans to the DNR for preliminary review. This informal review can identify changes needed to secure and expedite final MRCCA plan approval. Local governments wanting preliminary plan review should submit their draft MRCCA plans to Matt Bauman. Detailed local government planning guidance for MRCCA plans is available with the Metropolitan Council.